Thursday, January 31, 2008

AP: 'Hughes Can Relax'

Today, Joel Sherman's statements regarding Phil Hughes' conditioning - or lack thereof - were basically proven to be without any merit once Patrick Teale, head of Pinstripes Plus and minor league guru, totally refuted it. However, an AP report from this afternoon pulled some quotes from the 21 year-old now that he seems to have escaped a trade which would have sent him to Minnesota.

On the Mets - not Yankees - appearing to have acquired Johan Santana:

"That's kind of been my goal the whole time, and to finally know that it's somewhat intact, it's a good feeling," the 21-year-old right-hander said Thursday at the Yankees' minor league complex.

"It's good to finally have that reassurance of being somewhat stable for the time being. It kind of dragged out longer than everybody wanted it too, but it's finally nice to be able to concentrate on things we need to do."

And on Hughes' offseason regimen:

Hughes has been working out at the complex the past six weeks and is throwing off a mound.

"He's been very diligent in his work this offseason, more so than he has in the past," Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "But he's human as well. He hears the rumors. But like I tell him, all he can control is how he prepares and gets himself ready to pitch."

"He's starting to figure out some things as far as work ethic goes and what it takes to get ready for spring training," Eiland said. "This is his third major league camp. Now he's going in as a member of the pitching staff rather than just a top prospect trying to get a couple looks and being sent out. He's getting himself ready to pitch in a major league season."

Eiland's description of Hughes as 'more diligent' than past years relates to Phil's concentration level remaining squarely on baseball because of the Santana rumors. The same goes for Eiland's reference to "work ethic," because Hughes is entering Spring training as a member of the team, requiring a tougher different approach to camp. Regardless, Hughes' propensity to arrive to Spring workouts earlier than most Yankees is a testament supporting his drive to succeed.

There was also brief mention of Andrew Brackman - the nearly seven foot fireballer recovering from Tommy John surgery:

Andrew Brackman, the Yankees first round pick in the 2007 amateur draft, is throwing at 90 feet. The 6-foot-10, 240 pound right-hander from North Carolina State had elbow ligament replacement surgery last Aug. 24.

"It's feeling awesome," Brackman said.

Brackman, who will not pitch in games this season, is scheduled to increase his throwing distance in about two weeks.


Hughes To Change Jersey No.

According to Hughes' weblog, the RHP is considering a number change from his current "65" jersey. I believe Phil likes numbers that are multiples of five. Jorge's got 20, Giambi is 25, Mussina is 35, Wang at 40, Matsui 55.

The 45 jersey number is/was under Carl Pavano's control. With Carl the Crutch's bad karma, I would hope Hughes thinks twice before putting on the hex's old jersey. That leaves 30, recently vacated by Larry Bowa and 50, his former number at Trenton.

How about the number 57? That would send a message to his critics.

Yanks Sign Ensberg To Minor League Deal

According to ESPN, the Yankees signed career third baseman Morgan Ensberg to a minor league contract which will allow the 32 year-old to compete for a spot at the merry go-round that's become first base.

Terms of the contract weren't immediately available. Ensberg signed a minor-league deal, with an invitation to major league camp. The Yankees' 40-man roster is currently full, but three spots are expected to open when Carl Pavano, Humberto Sanchez and Andrew Brackman are transferred to the 60-day disabled list in March.

Ensberg hit 36 home runs for the Houston Astros in 2005 and made the National League All-Star team. The Astros sent him to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline last July, and he hit .230 with 12 homers in 115 games overall with the two clubs.

Ensberg is a bit of an enigma, though he is also an interesting guy. If you never read the ESPN Magazine article from three or so years ago, Ensberg survived a hostage situation while in the minor leagues. The incident left an indelible mark on him and forever left his confidence on and off the baseball field in flux.

Sabathia A Tough Sign For Tribe

Because of the expected historical deal Johan Santana will receive from the Mets, Cleveland ace and dominant lefthander CC Sabathia will become a difficult sign for the Indians. Sabathia is eligible for free agency following the 2008 season, however his name has not yet been bandied about in trade rumors.

The report continues by speculating "the Indians are not going to give Sabathia a contract for that much money or that many years." From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The next person to stop at Seven-Eleven should pick up chips and dip for C.C. Sabathia's goodbye party. They can hold it on the mound at newly named Progressive Field.

If the Mets complete their trade for Minnesota's Johan San tana, they might as well buy some cold drinks to wash down the chips because there's no way Saba thia will be an Indian after the 2008 season. If the Mets land Santana, it means they've agreed to a five- to six-year deal that could be worth between $130 million and $150 million.

As said before here and elsewhere, Sabathia may well become the second place prize for those who lost out on the Santana sweepstakes. The Yankees will surely take part in acquiring the mammoth southpaw.

* In the meantime, the Orioles will make one last attempt to sign Erik Bedard before moving forward with trade opportunities. Just a hunch, but Bedard will end up in Seattle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Metsblog: Santana Contract Close

According to Metsblog, the Mets and Johan Santana plan to work on ironing out a contract extension into Wednesday night, though a deal is not expected to be completed until Thursday.

Nothing new here, but the blog also believes the final detail to be worked out is whether the final year of the contract is guaranteed or a vested option. Santana will likely sign a deal of six years with an annual value above $20 million but below $25 million.

Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Marquez and a host of other prospects can now exhale.

Now can we finally put this topic to rest?

The Story Of Adam Jones & His Hip

This is the story of Adam Jones and his hip-bone. The tale is told in sequential order. We begin with the whispers of a completed blockbuster trade between two American League teams . . .

1/27/08 - The Sojo Says So
· The Seattle Times reports that an Erik Bedard deal which would send the lefty to Safeco Field is all but completed. It is believed the Orioles will receive Seattle Mariners star outfield prospect Adam Jones as well as a package of top prospects in return. The Baltimore Sun disagrees, reporting no deal has been finalized.
· Jones and his winter ball manager and Yankee icon Luis Sojo are quoted as saying Jones is destined for Baltimore to take a physical which would complete the trade for Bedard. The Orioles of course deny the claim, and the plot thickens.

1/28/08 - A Done Deal Undone?
· ESPN reports Orioles Owner and resident jackass Peter Angelos has yet to sign off on a proposed Bedard deal. Somewhere in Venezuela, Mr. Jones is wondering what the hell is going on.
· Despite being reported by ESPN, Mariners reliever George Sherrill denies being informed to take a physical in conjunction with a Bedard deal. Somewhere else, Adam Jones continues wondering.

1/29/08 - Jones' Hip Loses Some Hop
· Ken Rosenthal reports Angelos may be so upset about Jones confirming an imminent Bedard deal that the Orioles may decide to kill the deal altogether. The collective baseball universe rolls its eyes, snickers and mutters under stale breath "Good ol' Angelos."
· 12 hours later, a reporter from the Baltimore Sun contends during a sports radio program that Adam Jones has a degenerative hip condition which is the real reason behind the Bedard deal's sudden halt. Somewhere Jones' physician laughs. General Manager Bill Bavasi explains "All I can tell you is that we brought Adam Jones home from Venezuela."

1/30/08 - Let The Baby Have His Bottle
· 24 hours later The Seattle Times reports both the Orioles and Mariners are laughing off yesterday's report of a supposed Adam Jones hip condition killing the trade. The report's author believes the deal will still get done, explaining it would have moved forward had Angelos not been upset by Jones leaking the trade news. Angelos then cried "Goo Goo, Gaa Gaa," only quieting once he was handed his pacifier and blanky.
· Adam Jones struggles to understand how a toddler came to own the Orioles franchise.
· The Baltimore Sun reports the Bedard talks "are alive" but also suggests "other teams remain in the mix."

1/31/08 - Vengeance & Vidro
· Adam Jones, frustrated by a week of confusion and billionaire temper-tantrums decides to retire from baseball at the age of 22. Jones decides to pursue a career in the sports agent field. A few years later Jones exacts revenge, convincing Peter Angelos to trade Nick Markakis to the Mariners for Jose Vidro's Levitra supply.

[editor's note: this prediction in no way represents Adam Jones or any other coherant human- being]

Smith Wanted Kennedy And Wang

The post Santana deal fallout begins. The ace lefthander told Minnesota he would invoke his no-trade clause if he was not dealt by Tuesday.

A report in the Bergen Record today reveals that Twins GM Bill Smith came back to the Yankees after Boston removed Jon Lester from any potential package. Smith reportedly informed Brian Cashman that Phil Hughes would no longer be required in a package to attain Johan Santana. However, a Daily News report made more sense, contending that Smith came back to Cashman and did not ask for just Ian Kennedy, but also demanded Chien-Ming Wang.

To this demand Cashman simply offered rejection, content to move forward with the young pitching he assembled last season. There is no proven fact as to why Smith demanded Kennedy - a prospect superior to any player included in the Mets package - and Wang, a two-time 19 game winner in his twenties. However, it would seem Smith was content to demand more from the Yankees (and Boston) because he was instructed to keep Santana out of the American League unless a deal brought back major dividends.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WasWatching What?

As any knowledgeable baseball websurfer realizes, WasWatching is a Yankees blog with a flare for creating discussion. Though most of us understand Steve is a "glass half empty" kind of fellow, his outlook on prospects are often times morbid to borderline delusional.

His inability to accept Phil Hughes as a dynamic prospect comes after observing an athlete pitching for a few months after succumbing to major hamstring/ankle injuries. The infinite scouting reports and superlative statistics Hughes collected while dominating the minor league levels seems to escape him.

Tonight I was directed to take a look at the most recent post on the blog which discussed the Mets acquisition of Johan Santana. I found myself mildly disturbed after reading Steve declare this:
[The Mets] were not afraid to part with prospects. And, they're not afraid of Santana's salary demands.

Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber should be decent big league pitchers some day. But, Deolis Guerra is a baby. Anything can happen with him. Carlos Gomez? Yes, he can run and he can field. But, will he hit in the majors? How's his attitude?

To me, this would be as if the Yankees traded Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata, Alan Horne, and Dellin Betances for Johan Santana.

Considering the Mets trade proposal, had the Yankees offered Kennedy, Tabata, Horne and Betances, they probably could have gotten Johan Santana and Pat Neshek. A package of Horne, Jeffrey Marquez, Zach McCallister and Austin Jackson would comfortably overshadow the winning package by the Mets. Some might even suggest substituting Brett Gardner for A-Jax without losing ground to the Mets' offer.

But I digress. As of today, Ian Kennedy is double the prospect of any of the Mets prospects listed above. Last year Kennedy strolled his way through three minor league levels by pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA and earning himself Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. All this came before making an impressive three starts at the major league level... at age 22.

Kevin Mulvey is the most projectable piece of the package, but Deolis Guerra may be the top pitching prospect of the three mentioned. An 18 year-old with a ceiling as a #2 starter, he is certainly a strong prospect, but has yet to post any substantial numbers at Port St. Lucie.

Even with an injury-shortened 2007 from Dellin Betances, the native New Yorker and 6'9'' flamethrower has as high a ceiling as any prospect in the Yankees system. During instructs, Betances reportedly made significant strides in correcting his mechanics and has returned to 100% health. The teenager's fastball, which lost velocity last season, typically sits at 94-96 mph and he's touched 98 in years passed. Though only time will tell, Betances - like Kennedy - outclasses Guerra.

Phil Humber was a highly touted prospect 18 months ago, but his arm never fully made it back from Tommy John surgery and his velocity dipped noticeably. Maybe most important, his curveball never developed and his 2007 season saw him post decent - not dominant - peripherals. At AAA Humber compiled a 4.29 ERA, less hits than innings pitched, and a k/9 of 7.77.

By comparison, Alan Horne finally posted the numbers Yankees farmers had expected and took a giant step forward in his development. Horne returned well from Tommy John surgery and saw his velocity and stuff return to pre-op levels. After completely making over his mechanics in 2006, Horne took major advances toward the big leagues in 2007 by compiling 165 strikeouts in 153 innings and earning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors. . . all from a prospect two weeks younger than Humber.

Sure Horne spent last year at AA while Humber was in AAA, but Humber only pitched 30+ innings at AA while Horne tossed over 150. Had the Yankees not been as patient, Horne easily could have been promoted to Scranton at some point last season.

As for Jose Tabata, all the native Venezuelan did from ages 16-18 was hit .305/.375 in the GCL, Charleston and Tampa. Last year saw Tabata bat .307 while playing with a hand which needed surgery to remove the hamate bone following the season's conclusion. The only question scouts reserve for Tabata is how much power he will develop moving into his early 20s to accompany great plate discipline, pure hitting ability, a plus corner outfield arm and an average glove. When all is said and done, Tabata will be 19 years old and competing at the AA level next year, and that says a lot.

Certainly Carlos Gomez has the advantage in the outfield, flashing exceptional instincts tracking the ball and throwing out runners. However, last year saw Gomez promote himself as a singles hitter who uses bunting and incomparable speed to get on base. Unfortunately, scouts aren't very optimistic about Gomez ever developing much more of a hitting prowess. Regardless, every prospect list in the industry lists Tabata considerably higher than Gomez.

For all of these reasons, Steve's crackpipe inspired proposed trade of Betances, Tabata, Horne and Kennedy grossly exceeds the one which brought back Santana today. This is not to discredit what the Mets accomplished, only to apply a little reality to a post derived from fantasy land.

Mets Land Santana, Contract Awaits

The New York Mets have won the Johan Santana sweepstakes with a trade including Humber, Gomez, Mulvey and Guerra according to USA Today via Rotoworld. The deal is pending the Mets working out a contract extension with Santana.

Not having to include Fernando Martinez is a win for Omar Minaya. Much more on this as it unfolds.

The Yankees organization and the majority of their fans received what they wanted: to keep their top pitching talents while ensuring Santana stay out of Boston. The pressure is now squarely on Brian Cashman as well as Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain.

Cashman does not and has never appeared to be effected by the prospect of "being on the hook." The GM was under such pressures last season when the Yankees began the season in the AL East basement. He will be under similar scrutiny if Hughes (specifically) does not perform up to his abilities at age 21.

Cashman is also unaware as to what type of climate he will be subject to under the new ownership. Therefore, the embattled general manager could very well decide to move out of the big apple on his own volition and consider the multiple opportunities outside of pinstripe territory.

This is an exciting time for the Yankees farm followers and a declaration that the interlocking NY no longer stands for Not Young.

Twins Offer Santana $100 Million

According to WFAN's Mike Francesa, the Twins upped their offer to Johan Santana but he turned down a five year extension worth $100 million. Including the $13 million Santana would make this season, the total value of the contract would work out $113 million over the next six years.

Meanwhile, WFAN contributer and SI columist Jon Heyman believes the Yankees are out on Santana and the Mets remain the frontrunners.

The long-running Johan Santana sweepstakes, which may be coming to a conclusion within days, appear now to be a two-team race between the Mets and Red Sox. While this derby has taken several twists and turns and has been difficult to predict, the Twins appear to be in more regular contact with the Mets in recent days, which could be an indication that they are leading as the finish line approaches.

Some baseball officials believe an agreement on the players could be struck as early as Tuesday. But even if the Twins and Mets agree on player compensation, the Mets will have to lure Santana with a multiyear deal. Santana has a full no-trade clause and the power to veto any deal.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have told the Twins that they will now no longer include young pitcher Phil Hughes in any deal and appear to be just about out of the running now, if not completely out.


Angelos May Kill Bedard Deal

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles - meaning owner Peter Angelos - may be so upset by Adam Jones' remarks (that he was part of a trade to Baltimore) that the O's could call off a potential Erik Bedard to Seattle deal, or ask for additional compensation. What is this, the dodgeball court and the fat kid complaining about getting hit in the face?

From Rotoworld:'s Ken Rosenthal believes the Orioles may be upset enough about Adam Jones' comments on the deal to call off the Erik Bedard trade or at least seek additional compensation.

Yeah, there's good reason the Orioles remain in the running for the title of worst run organization in baseball. Either the deal is good enough or it isn't. Who cares if Jones admitted 12 hours ahead of time that he was going to Baltimore for a physical?

If Peter Angelos kills the deal as is -- it's believed to currently be a five-for-one including Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Adam Butler and Kam Mickolio -- the Mariners should simply move on. Rosenthal believes the Orioles may now be holding out for Carlos Triunfel, who should be untouchable.
Absolutely mindboggling. If Angelos were given Sandy Koufax in return for Bedard, he'd complain about the way he wore his hat. And then kill the deal. Poor Orioles fans must be hiding their heads in their hands over this one. And they should be. It's rare such a great legion of fans becomes so betrayed by its ownership.

Monday, January 28, 2008

ESPN: Joba May Start In Pen

According to an AP report, Joba Chamberlain may or may not begin the 2008 season in the bullpen before becoming a member of the starting rotation.

This is obviously not "news" as Yankee outlets such as this one have been plodding over this very subject for what has seemed like an eternity. [While on the topic, be sure to vote on the poll located on the sidebar]

The passionate debate regarding where Chamberlain will start the season spawns from a strict innings cap created to protect the arms of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and particularly Joba whose career high in innings-pitched came in 2005 with a mere 118.

Kennedy could make the leap to 190-200 innings in 2008 after throwing about 165 innings last year; however, only 19 innings came at the big league level. Hughes pitched a career high 146 innings in 2006 but last year's hamstring and ankle injuries held the 21 year-old to approximately 110 innings.

Back to the Associated Press report. The most interesting section of the article came from quotes attributed to newly appointed pitching coach Dave Eiland.

The Yankees fanbase and general public may not know what the plan is for limiting the innings of the big three - talk of a six man rotation is only one example amongst more outlandish theories - but it seems like the organization is pretty confident in the plan it will implement once training camp breaks.

From the article:
Joba Chamberlain could begin this season in the bullpen before moving to the New York Yankees' starting rotation. The Yankees plan to use him as a starter this year, the role he was accustomed to in the minors and college. But the team wants to limit his overall innings, which means beginning 2008 in the bullpen is one option under consideration.

"We're going to have a plan going into spring training," new Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said Monday. "There already has been ideas tossed around. I think we have a pretty good handle on what we're going to do going into it."
Phil Hughes and Jeff Karstens also are working out with Eiland, and both have thrown two mound sessions. Other pitchers, including Ian Kennedy, who don't live near the Yankees' facility are taking part in throwing programs at home.

Eiland thinks the early hands-on sessions with the young pitchers are important.

"Veteran guys, they know what they need to do," Eiland said. "This is Joba's first major league camp. This will be Ian's first major league camp. Phil's going into camp as a member of the team. Now going in, I'm going to know exactly what these guys have been doing for the past month. And I'm preparing them for the program that we're going to be doing in spring training. So that's huge. It's a huge advantage."

Knock on wood, but Eiland stating "Phil's going into camp as a member of a the team" has got to be exciting for those fans who have fought hard to protect the symbol of a now rejuvenated Yankees farm system.

Obviously Hank Steinbrenner is capable of anytime flipping the gameplan and making a Santana deal, but this is the first time I’ve heard any member of the Yankees coaching staff speak so explicitly on Hughes. The fact that the pitching coach refers to Hughes as an intricate member of the team going into camp is a departure from more vague references regarding the Big Three made only weeks earlier.

Eiland sounds like a man with a plan and should fit in very well with the consummately prepared Joe Girardi. As a Ron Guidry fan it's tough to admit, but Eiland seems like a major step ahead of Louisiana Lightning. Whereas Eiland shows an ability to speak the science of pitching, Guidry will never be able to teach the guile and stuff he possessed as a Yankee star pitcher.

[Bryan Hoch offers another Joba take and further Eiland quotes here.]

Conie To Join YES Network

According to Joel Sherman, David Cone will join the YES broadcast booth next season. I have a feeling Cone will thrive as an analyst and has the personality to back it up. Al Leiter and Cone provide some strong personalities for the network, though they probably will still find themselves behind SNY's trio of Darling, Hernandez and Cohen.

I must admit myself to be one of the bigger Cone fans out there. I remember when Cone was a member of the '93 Royals and spent hours signing autographs at Yankee Stadium. I was able to shake his hand, share a kind word and get a hat signed. Even as a youngster I could sense the genuine appreciation he got from interacting with fans. Even fans from opposing teams, Conie just got it.

Watching his perfect game a few years later, there was never a moment in which an athlete epitomized jubliation or worthiness more so than David Cone. Furthermore, name another Yankees perfect game pitcher who accepted an invitation from the boisterous bleacher creatures and sat in Section 39 for a Yankees home opener. Like many other baseball fans, I will look forward to his contributions in the booth.

Neal: Twins To Soon Ask For 'Final Answer'

Where's a Regis Philbin joke when you need one. According to Twins rumor mongerer La Velle Neal, Minnesota will soon ask the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets for their final offers on Johan Santana. Neal refutes Buster Olney's report yesterday which declared Jon Lester off the trading table.

Indications from Twins officials are that this is a critical week in the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

The club has not set any hard deadlines yet but may soon tell the teams most interested in Santana -- the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox -- that it's time for them to step up with their best offers for the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Twins officials over the weekend maintained that all three teams remain interested in Santana. They also disputed reports that lefthander Jon Lester has been taken out of any Red Sox package. Boston still is believed to have different packages under consideration, one led by Lester and the other led by outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Twins would like a package from the Yankees that includes righthander Phil Hughes and outfielder Melky Cabrera -- an option that some Twins players quietly prefer.

There is always the possibility that the Yankees return their offer based around Hughes and Melky, though that possibility seems to shrink with every day passed.
The question now is whether the Twins and Yankees would be willing to assemble and accept an offer of say Ian Kennedy, Alan Horne, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Marquez. Only Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner can really answer that one.

Baseball America Top 30 Prospects

From BA:

1. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
2. Austin Jackson, of
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. Ian Kennedy, rhp
5. Alan Horne, rhp
6. Jesus Montero, c
7. Jeff Marquez, rhp
8. Brett Gardner, of
9. Ross Ohlendorf, rhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp
11. Mark Melancon
12.Humberto Sanchez
13. Dellin Betances
14.Daniel McCutcheon
15.Kevin Whelan
16.Carmen Angelini
17.George Kontos
18.Ivan Nova
19.Collin Curtis
20. Jairo Heredia
21.Juan Miranda
22. Austin Romine
23.Francisco Cervelli
24. David Robertson
25.Mike Dunn
26. J.B. Cox
27. Mitch Hilligoss
28.Scott Patterson
29.Edward Ramirez
30.Zach McAllister

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Report: Bedard Is Seattle Bound

Mariners Blog via the Seattle Times reports Erik Bedard has been traded to the Mariners for a package built around star outfield prospect Adam Jones. From the article:
Adam Jones has left his Venezuelan Winter League team and flies to Baltimore tomorrow morning to take a physical so he can be dealt to the Orioles in exchange for pitcher Erik Berdard. No word yet on how many players going Baltimore's way.

Jones did not mince words when he spoke to a reporter from Diario Panorama in Venezuela today. We have a relationship with the reporter and paper and they have graciously supplied us with quotes from the interview with Jones.

"I received a call from Seattle saying that is no more playing for me and I can't do anything about that,'' Jones said. "I leave tomorrow morning..."

"(Bill Bavasi) called me yesterday and told me the news. I've got to go to Baltimore tomorrow morning and handle things there. I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is. He's one of the best. Last year he finished up as arguably one of the top candidates for the Cy Young. He's that good, so for me it's an honor. You know, I like Seattle, but if I am in Baltimore, as I think now I am, I'm going to embrace it and have the best time of my life in Major League Baseball."
Jones sounds like a good kid off the field, to go along with his all star caliber talent on the field. The article also mentioned George Sherrill, Seattle's talented lefthanded reliever. Sherrill also comes off well, though he has yet to be informed if he is involved in any potential deal.
Bedard out of AL East
Santana to the NL
Hughes, Joba & Co. open new stadium

Top Ten Sunday Rumblings

1 · Johan Santana is still property of the Minnesota Twins.

2 · A Twins beat writer says Santana will be dealt within the next 10 days.

3 · Tonight, another Twins lefty ace - Francisco Liriano - says he's 100% healthy since undergoing elbow surgery over a year ago. This can only make Santana more expendable.

4 · Buster Olney reports the Red Sox pulled Jon Lester off the table "for good."

5 · Meanwhile, the Daily News implies the rest of baseball Mets will not acquire any starting pitchers until the Santana fiasco works itself out - and that means you Livian.

6 · According to the Beacon Journal, C.C. Sabathia could be a sweet second place prize for those teams who lose out on Santana.

7 · In Yankees pseudo-news, Bernie Williams and Brian Cashman are at odds about how the former's professional career came to a close. Neither side is wrong, but but both look bad airing their dirty laundry out in public.

8 · A Fox Sports columist posted a list of the top 10 young ballplayers poised to break out in 2008; Phil Hughes ranks fourth, though the writer ineptly predicted 200 innings from him?

9 · A month ago, the same Fox Sports writer compiled a list of the top 10 rookie candidates of 2008. Clay Buchholz ranked #1 and Joba Chamberlain #2.

10 · Less than 18 days until pitchers and catchers arrive for Spring Training workouts.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Babe's "Nephew" Convicted In Tax Fraud

George Herman Ruth, 51, who claims to be the nephew of Babe Ruth, was found guilty in Trenton yesterday. The supposed relative of the Sultan of Swat has put together quite the resume, leading to a life of crime committed outside and inside state penitentiaries.

From the Star Ledger:

A serial fraudster who claims to be a nephew of baseball legend Babe Ruth was convicted in federal court yesterday of filing 178 bogus tax returns -- from prison.

George Herman Ruth, 51, was serving a 33-month term for mail fraud at the federal prison at Fort Dix when he hatched and carried out a plan to soak the Internal Revenue Service for $360,000 in refunds, a jury ruled in U.S. District Court in Trenton.

Ruth and a co-defendant, 63-year-old William Robert Pilkey, used their own names and assumed the identities of fellow and former inmates in filing the returns for tax years 2000 through 2003. Pilkey, who had been serving 10 years on a drug charge, also was convicted in the scheme, which the pair carried out in 2003 and 2004.

For Ruth -- an Indianapolis native who testified during the trial that he was a nephew of the legendary "Bambino," George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. -- the IRS scam was a variant on an oft-repeated theme.

While imprisoned in 1997 in Indiana, he and a lady friend on the outside stole $33,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by using assumed names to apply for insurance refunds, records show.

He used the same ruse while working as the circulation manager at an Indiana newspaper, the Marion Chronicle-Tribune, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, filing false returns in the names of various newspaper carriers. He was convicted of filing false returns in 1980, 1981 and 1984.

Unfortunately for this con-artist, his ties to The Babe are as flimsy as his credit report:

As for Ruth's connection to the famed Yankees slugger, it appears to be one more bit of flimflammery.

Babe Ruth's grandson, Tom Stevens, said through a representative last night he didn't know the man.

"He has no knowledge of this George Herman Ruth," said Ryan Boyle, director of sports marketing at CMG Worldwide, the Ruth family's business agent. "He didn't say it's not possible, just that he didn't know of him."

I smell an appearance during The Maury Povich show's famed Paternity Test Week. Forget blood tests, just see if this guy can down a dozen hot dogs and a party ball in less than a minute and that'll be all the proof you'll need of his bloodlines.

Cashman Wants Him Some Young Pitchin'

In actual Yankees news, Brian Cashman made it clear he wants to build the future of the Yankees franchise around its young pitchers during an appearance at William Patterson University.

"I can't talk about another team's player," said Cashman, "but I can say that I'm committed to our young players."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Click A Link

· Bryan Hoch, excellent source of info at, has a little piece on Phil Hughes and his new weblog. All joking aside, the blog is a pretty unique connection between a rising professional athlete and his growing posse of adoring fans.

· Bartolo Colon, who is attempting to raise his free agent dollars by pitching in the Dominican, is not looking good, according to The Rocky Mountain News.

The Rocky Mountain News also reports that Livian Hernandez is close to a deal with the Mets, securing a family reunion with brother, Orlando. One's fat, the other is skinny. One's a workhorse, the other prone to injury.

Here are three links to rumors from Seattle newspapers reporting the Mariners are making a final push for Erik Bedard.

· Some old news written today, as the Post writes "Cano Cashing In," while the Times has Robinson "Near A 4-Year Deal."

· A list of links would not be complete without at least one reference to Johan Santana. FakeTeams writes the Twins want to move Santana within the next 21 days. So Minnesota wants to solve the situation before P&C report? Shocking.

Hank Steinbrenner the columnist? Check out today's New York Post article written by the young elephant. I know Hanky likes to talk to the media, but I never imagined Hanky would become the media. For his next trick Lil' Stein will attempt to interview himself about where he stands on Johan Santana.

2008's Hardest Throwing Prospects

Baseball America compiled a list of the hardest throwing pitching prospects going into the 2008 season. The Yankees, with two in the top three, made a strong showing in this respect.

The 2002 list included some current stars - Carlos Zambrano, K-Rod, Bobby Jenks - as well as a plethora of names, ahem Sean Henn, which never made it big in the big leagues.

via Mike A.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Polls Closed: Much Ado About Johan

A recent poll asked BL visitors to put their GM caps on and decide how they'd approach the Johan Santana situation had Boston never gotten involved. The votes are in and the results are overwhelmingly supportive of the Yankees young arms - specifically Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.

With 77% of voters choosing to a) pursue Santana as a free agent or b) keep Hughes/Chamberlain at all costs, the consensus is clear. Yankees fans want to improve their team, but refuse to surrender their top two pitching prospects in the process.

Obviously, Chamberlain had been deemed "untouchable" early on in the Santana sweepstakes. However, the unexpected inclusion of Hughes brought the Yankees universe to an abrupt halt, spurring a fanbase obsessed with winning to quickly voice their desire to protect the future as opposed to the recent strategy of selling it.

Even Hank Steinbrenner recognized the fanbase's stubbornness when it came to including Hughes in a trade, regardless of what megastar came in return.

At 11%, the third most popular choice amongst voters asked the Yankees to "let an NL team get [Santana]." This segment of voters represents another change of pace as Yankee fans are willing to let their crosstown rivals reap the rewards of a Santana swap as long as it means Hughes is safe and Johan is far from Beantown.

The least popular response from voters - at a mere 10% - represents the small population of Yankees fans who are willing to trade 21 year-old Hughes for the Minnesota ace. By no means do I fault this segment of Yankee fans for wanting to acquire arguably the best pitcher in baseball.

However, the voters on this site, and on countless other polls around the internet, speaks to the overwhelming majority of bombers fans who believe Boston's involvement is transparent; and that the best strategy calls for Brian Cashman to pursue Santana if he becomes a free agent next offseason.

Considering the three most popular responses urge the Yankees front office to either let the Mets get Santana, sign him in the offseason and refuse to give up Hughes or Chamberlain, that means 88% of BL visitors are against pursuing a trade for Johan Santana. If you've spent one day in New York City, that's about as much agreement as you'll find in the big apple.

* Please take part in the new poll and let me know how you would use Joba Chamberlain in 2008.

Cano Close To $30M Contract

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are close to locking up Robinson Cano to a four year contract worth $30 million.
The Yankees, locking up one of their young stars, are on the verge of signing second baseman Robinson Cano to a four-year, $30 million contract, according to major-league sources.

The deal, which would take Cano through his arbitration years, also is expected to include club options that would enable the Yankees to buy out one or two years of free agency.

The contract would be contingent upon Cano passing a physical.

Cano, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time this off-season. He asked for $4.55 million and the Yankees offered $3.2 million.

A "super-two" player due to his service time, Cano was eligible for four years of arbitration rather than the customary three.

Cano appeared in 160 games for the Yankees last season, batting .306 and setting career-highs with 19 homers and 97 RBIs.

His career batting average in three major-league seasons is .314.

This is a change in thinking from the Yankees usual stance on young cost-controlled players. From Rotoworld:

Either Cano's agent was lying Tuesday when he said no discussions had taken place or this has come together as quickly as any deal in history. A four-year contract would take Cano right to free agency. He was a super-two player this year, so he was going to have four years of arbitration.

Boston Says Mets Lead For Santana

With Yankees, Red Sox and Mets columnists coming to a current consensus on the Johan Santana trade front, the question remains, can the Mets close a deal? At one point or another all three teams "led" the race to acquire the lefty, and yet the lead did not last long enough.

Today's Boston Herald article brings some new names to the table, including recent addition Ryan Church and pitching prospect Mike Pelfrey. From the column:
The Mets, and not the Red Sox or Yankees, remain the front-runner as the team most likely to succeed in pulling off a trade for Minnesota ace Johan Santana, according to baseball insiders in touch with both the Mets and Twins in recent days.

A package the Twins could receive will probably not include both of the Mets’ top outfield prospects, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. There are indications that Martinez would be in the deal, along with major league outfielder Ryan Church and at least two other prospects. Starter Mike Pelfrey could be part of the deal as well. . . .

In another story, David Wright told the AP that the Mets don't need Santana to succeed next season. Wright had some diplomatic answers regarding the conclusion to last year's season as well. From the Bergen Record article:
Wright is convinced that the Mets have the pieces to recapture the National League East title. But he wouldn't mind if Johan Santana was brought in to aid that effort.

"I agree 100 percent with Omar [Minaya]," Wright said. "If it's the right price, 30 teams would want him. You don't want to give up the farm system. I've faced Johan. I know how nasty he is."

"Just because we haven't made any changes doesn't mean that we aren't going to come in and be better individually," he said. "The answer isn't free agency. The answer isn't making these big trades. It's looking inside.

"Everybody has a bitter taste in their mouths and I think that's a good thing."

Jose Canseco is one honorable juicer. Via Rotoworld, the New York Times reports Canseco told Magglio Ordonez he would be excluded from Jose's new book if the Tigers outfielder offered a substantial investment in an upcoming Canseco roid binge film project.
"Four people in baseball confirmed that referrals were made from Major League Baseball to the FBI regarding Canseco’s actions. The FBI did not open a formal investigation because Ordonez said he did not want to pursue the complaint. Canseco, who is expected to publish his book in March, denied the claims."
So much for that whole credibility factor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pitching Prospects Gone Wild

Trenton catcher PJ Pilittere, pitchers Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez get their drink on.

Marquez and Ian Kennedy with the Trenton Thunder symbol.

The Kennedys are kronked.

[hat tip to MyPinstripes]

Hughes Accounts For Velocity Loss

Phil Hughes held a chat today on his weblog and one of the questions he decided to answer asked about his mechanics before and after the hamstring injury. The question also pondered if Dave Eiland's involvement late in the season was instrumental in Hughes' fine performance down the stretch.

This was Phil's response:
After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command. When Dave arrived in September we were able to work out some things and I think that had a lot to do with the success I had at the end of the season. It was nice to finish off the year on a good note so I have something to work toward to get back to my normal self in 2008.
There you have it. The Hughesian velocity-loss debunked. I did a piece on this topic back in September, calling on current Diamondbacks scout Carlos Gomez for the discussion.

On a related note, a Lohud reader relayed what he'd heard from a Mariano Rivera Q&A session hosted by insufferable bore Michael Kay. Here's what Rivera had to say about Hughes and a potential Johan Santana deal, according to Pete Abe:
Rivera is against the Johan Santana deal because he believes Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy will develop into top-flight players.
Hank is getting mighty lonely on that front, isn't he?

Breaking: Bonds Asks Judge To Throw Perjury Case Out, America Laughs

Apparently Barry Bonds does have a sense of humor as the embattled steroids star asked a federal judge to dismiss perjury charges on Wednesday. Bonds called the indictment "scattershot" and believed it is full of "striking inartfulness."

Never heard that word before and it does not appear in dictionaries, but it seems to mean ineptitude; though lawyer speak is not my forte. From

The lawyers said "the questions posed to him by two different prosecutors were frequently imprecise, redundant, overlapping and frequently compound."

Prosecutors asked Bonds several times whether personal trainer Greg Anderson supplied him with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs beginning in 2000. Bonds answered "no" or "not at all," but his lawyers argued that the questions were not clear.

Bonds' lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to either toss the case or order prosecutors to streamline the indictment, which cites 19 different instances of Bonds' alleged lying.

Good use of the thesaurus Barry, but all the flowery vocabulary in Oxford won't get this case thrown out by a federal judge.

Heyman: Mets, Santana, Blah Blah Blah

All Santana, All the Time.

Jon Heyman has joined the chorus of reporters who already suggest the Mets are Johan Santana's top suitor.
Once written off as an extreme long shot in the long-running Johan Santana drama, the Mets may actually be the favorite now. At the very least, there are indications now that they are engaging in more regular dialogue with the Twins in recent days than either the Red Sox or Yankees. And Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who loves a big deal but hasn't made one since the winter before last, has told some people in the business, "We have a shot.''

Minaya declined to comment when I reached him on Tuesday. But there are some definite signs that the Twins may be warming to the idea of taking a package of projects and prospects with high ceilings while not insisting on much in the way of major-league help. Which, if true, would give the Mets a real shot.
Neither the Red Sox, who have seemed consistently lukewarm in this derby, nor the Yankees, who have run hot and cold, has been as aggressive as one might expect considering their longstanding fight over players big and small. At this point, it appears either might simply be happy not to see Santana go to the other.
The Yankees remain the wild card. GM Brian Cashman has made the rejuvenation of the team's farm system his calling card and is said to be against trading even one top-flight young pitcher, such as Phil Hughes. But newly-empowered general partner Hank Steinbrenner is said by insiders to be much more willing to do what it takes in terms of prospects and dollars to land Santana.
Some Mets officials have an impression that they could probably have Santana if they simply added Martinez to the mix, but one person familiar with the Mets thinking said he'd be surprised if the Mets agreed to do that, which would leave their minor-league system practically barren. Which explains why there still isn't a deal.
The top Twins rumor writer, La Velle E. Neal III, offers his recent insights on the Santana debaucle. Neal shows a very different perspective, stating the Yankees continue to talk with Minnesota:
First of all, the Twins continue to talk to the Mets, Red Sox AND YANKEES about deals for Johan Santana. Despite the Yankees claiming that they are out of the running, I’ve been told the Twins have spoken with all three teams in recent days.

This doesn’t surprise me. Both New York teams need starting pitching help. Mets starters were 66-53 last season, including 13 wins from Tom Glavine. The Yankees are counting on Andy Pettitte, who will turn 36 during the season, to lead their rotation.

I kept being told that the Twins are willing to go to spring training with Santana, although that would be the worst-case scenario. For now, the Twins have stepped up their efforts to make a deal with one of these teams before camp opens.

Murray Chass Is Tired Of Santana

Johan Santana is the story that never ends. Murray Chass of the New York Times understands Roger Clemens and Capitol Hill have overshadowed Santana's sweepstakes, but he also realizes the commotion surrounding the Twins ace shows no signs of slowing:
In this space two weeks ago, I wrote that the most popular baseball game of the winter was the Minnesota Twins’ attempt to trade Johan Santana, and the game, I said, seemed to be endless. The endless part was right, but I’m not so sure I was right about it being the most popular game of the winter.
The Twins’ effort to trade Santana, thought by many to be the best pitcher in baseball, goes on. They continue to talk to interested teams, but no one is prepared to make a deal because the Twins haven’t told their potential trading partners whether they want major league-ready players or prospects.

The Twins could be delaying that decision while they determine which players may be available. They have been told that their No. 1 choice, José Reyes, the Mets shortstop, is not. So their talks go on, making an already long game even longer.

Although Santana’s new location, assuming he is relocated, will be of great importance to much of the population of Major League Baseball — the team that gets him, the teams that don’t, the teams that will have to deal with him and the teams that will no longer have to deal with him.

If his portrayal of Bill Smith is accurate, Chass is painting a pretty damning picture of the Twins GM as a man who doesn't know what he wants.

Bill, do you want prospects or young major leaguers? If Smith is as clueless as he appears, Minaya must be licking his lips.

Cano Wants Long Term Deal

The Yankees are not known for extending their young cost controlled players to multi year contracts until they hit free agency. Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano are no exceptions to this strategy.

However, as Kat O'Brien of Newsday reports Cano and his agent have made it known they would like to lock up a deal similar to what the Mets offered David Wright or Jose Reyes before they hit free agency:
Robinson Cano would be open to the idea of signing a long-term contract with the Yankees, his agent, Bobby Barad, said yesterday.

Barad made clear that the Yankees have not broached that topic with him and Cano, and that he has not brought up the possibility. However, should the Yankees seek to lock up their All-Star second baseman well before free agency - as the Mets did with third baseman David Wright and shortstop Jose Reyes - Cano could have interest.

"He wouldn't be adverse to that in theory," Barad said.

Cano, 25, batted .306 with 19 homers and 97 RBIs this season. He has a career .314 average in three seasons. He is not eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season.

Due to their financial might, the Yankees never lose their budding stars once they hit free agency. Cano and Wang will likely sign long term extensions once they are FA eligible, however, eliminating the risk and signing them sooner may not be a bad idea. This is especially true when considering the ramifications of a potentially messy arbitration battle with the rising second baseman.

Popper: Mets Should Give Up The Farm

Mets columnist Steve Popper offers his insights regarding the neverending trade saga revolving around Johan Santana this offseason. Popper believes the Mets should give up whatever package of prospects it takes in order to acquire the lefthanded pitcher. From the Bergen Record column:

Finally, Johan Santana is off the airwaves, out of the collective minds of at least fans from New Jersey to Boston, replaced by Eli Manning, Tom Brady and their quests for history.

Which makes me wonder: Will today be the day that Santana finally is traded?

I know what I'm hoping. I hope that we never hear another rumor, never read another story – after this one – about Santana coming to (fill in the blank). And the only way that will happen is if Santana goes somewhere, anywhere.

So Mets, get it done. Give up four prospects. Give up five. Give up Fernando Martinez. Get it done.

Martinez may turn out to be a star. Deolis Guerra could turn out to be an ace. Or maybe they won't. But in Santana, arm health permitting, the Mets would ensure the future of their pitching rotation, something that they are desperately in need of beyond this season.
This is the old school, inkblotch take on baseball prospects. By marginalizing young minor league stars into players who may become this or may become that, Popper is able to overlook the importance of a strong farm system. And in the case of the New York Mets, a deal that would send all five of their prospects would leave the organization with no farm system to speak of.

That said, the Mets should make the deal with or without Fernando Martinez. The Mets "top" prospects are not as terrible as many news outlets would have you think, but they are also not in the same stratosphere as the top five prospects of teams like the Devil Rays and Dodgers.

Humber, Pelfrey have lost a great deal of their prospect status and Gomez is a plus to plus-plus defender with no bat to speak of. F-Mart and to a lesser extent Guerra, are the only true high ceiling prospects of the lot.

If the Mets are able to establish a deal including only one of Martinez and Guerra, they swindled the Twins. If they must include both, I would still pull the trigger. But, they will have to spend equal time attempting to replenish their minor league corps as they pour into signing Santana.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LeBron James to unveil new sneakers inspired by his Yankees fandom. The shoes will include the trademark Yankee pinstripes as well his jersey No. 23.

From ESPN:
Also, under the tongue are the words "Le-Bron Ja-Mes. Clap. Clap. Clap Clap Clap," a nod to the cheer New York fans reserve for their beloved Yankees, and on the strap is the phrase: "Fresh for '08. Suckers!"

Nike spokesman Kejuan Wilkins said the Yankees-themed shoe will be released in March. Initial plans are for it to be sold only in New York.

James received backlash from Cleveland fans after the NBA superstar attended an Indians home playoff game against New York while wearing a Yankees cap.

This latest slap to the Cleveland fan's face may alienate even more of his fans, but hey, it's pretty cool that James included an ode to the bleacher creatures on his new sneaks.

Walters: Hughes Is Off The Table

Today, Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press echoed Minneapolis colleague, Joe Christenen, in asserting the Mets as the most likely destination for Johan Santana. Unfortunately, until any deal is finalized between Minnesota and a potential trading partner, reports of who's "in the lead" seem fruitless.

For Yankees fans, the most important morsel from Walters' piece are expressed in a mere four words: "No more Phil Hughes." Considering Hughes reported early to Spring Training, purchased a condominium in the Tampa area and has created a weblog with which to engage Yankees fans, all support the idea that the 21 year-old phenom is Bronx bound.

From the article:
The Twins say they're not panicking while holding out for the best deal for Johan Santana. But word within baseball circles is that offers by the New York Yankees (no more Phil Hughes) and Boston Red Sox are diminishing by the week. Best bet now for a trade of the two-time Cy Young Award winner appears to be with the New York Mets in a deal that would not include fast-rising hitter Fernando Martinez.
The Mets completing a trade for Santana which does not include F-Mart has to be seen as a major victory for Omar Minaya and the Mets. For Bill Smith, however, any deal excluding the top Mets prospect would mean defeat for the newly appointed Twins GM.

Mattingly Quits Dodgers Job

[photo courtesy of]

From comes the news that Don Mattingly decided to leave the Dodgers after being passed over as bench coach weeks ago. From the report:
Don Mattingly, named by the Dodgers as hitting coach two months ago and the presumed eventual replacement for new manager Joe Torre, stepped aside on Tuesday for family reasons and was replaced by Triple-A hitting coach Mike Easler.

Mattingly will remain in the organization as a special advisor and coach, but requested the change so he could spend more time at home in Evansville, Ind. Mattingly took the Dodgers job after losing out to Joe Girardi for the Yankees' manager job that Torre formerly held.

"I'm very grateful that the Dodgers have allowed me to take care of these family matters and I hope that everyone can respect our privacy during this time," Mattingly said in a statement issued by the team. "I truly appreciate the support of all Dodger fans since joining the organization and I look forward to helping the team win in 2008 and beyond."

This has been a tough offseason for Donnie Baseball. Mattingly traveled from shoe-in as Joe Torre's replacement, to Torre's right hand man in LA, and now has removed himself as Dodgers hitting coach. And now . . .

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Pujols Shows Media His Pimp Hand

Albert Pujols does not like KTVI. In fact, he is so angry about an inaccurate report from the station that Pujols had reporters from KTVI take a timeout, sit in a corner and remain quiet until recess the end of the press conference.

ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols, angry his name was incorrectly linked to the Mitchell report on steroids last month, banned a St. Louis television station from participating in a news conference Monday.

Pujols asked Cardinals media relations director Brian Bartow to make a reporter and cameraman from St. Louis Fox affiliate KTVI leave the room where Pujols' news conference was taking place on the final day of the Cardinals' winter warmup.

On Dec. 13, KTVI broadcast an incorrect report, citing information posted on the Web site of New York television station WNBC, that linked Pujols and other players to the Mitchell report.

When the report was released that day, Pujols' name was not included.

"I know we're in the dark clouds with the steroids," Pujols said. "But now people are going to second-guess my numbers because some guys started something that wasn't the truth."

The KTVI duo watched Monday's news conference from the corner of the room with the camera off and did not participate.

What a visual. Well-groomed network sports anchor pouting in a corner as his cameraman hangs his head, pretending the camera ran out of film.

After chewing out the media, Pujols directed his wrath toward his critics who second-guessed him since his rookie year:

"Since 2001, I've been proving myself every year," he said. "How much better can I get? Only God knows. Do I need to cheat in this game to get better? This is a hobby, man. I fear God too much to do stupid things in this game. Cheating on this game, that's not right."

Pujols has been dealing with doubters since shortly after he began his career, first with his age. Throughout the years he said media have tried to goad him into creating controversy.

"I remember from 2001, 'Oh he's not 21,'" Pujols said. "During the playoffs, they always look for the big names to start things. And now with the steroids I've been getting rocks all over the place, and they keep bouncing off me."

Pujols said he decided against offseason surgery on his right elbow, a trouble spot for several years, because he would have had to miss a significant portion if not all the 2008 season. Pujols still is unable to straighten his arm, but team doctors concluded that because he plays first base, an operation can be postponed.

I have no idea if Pujols used juice or is legit. I like to think that he did it on god given ability alone.

What I do know, is that the handful of superstars who owe their stardom to performance enhancing drugs have completely ruined the reputations of those major leaguers who did it naturally.

Report: Bedard Megadeal In Works

According to Phil Rogers via Rotoworld:

Despite GM Jim Hendry's protestations, the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers says the Cubs and Orioles are talking about a massive deal involving Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts.

According to Rogers' very highly placed source, Orioles owner Peter Angelos did shoot the deal down at the end of last week, but talks were back on again recently. Rogers believes the Cubs could send Felix Pie to Baltimore and bring in Marlon Byrd to replace him.

Report: Mets Still Lead Santana Race

According to Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune, the Twins may be most enamored with the Mets as a trading partner and landing spot for Johan Santana. Christensen goes on to imply that the Yankees and Red Sox will not "improve their offers."

It is certainly possible that the two AL rivals will rescind their trade proposals altogether, if they haven't already considering Hank Steinbrenner's flipflopping. However, baseball people are not silly enough to rule out the Yankees, especially when Hank repeatedly leaves the door open for him to change his mind on the subject.

From the article:

The Twins know what they can get. And they realize none of the packages will appease their fans, who might never forgive them for trading the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Still, Twins officials privately say they think Santana will be traded before spring training opens next month.

It's possible the Twins will trade Santana without landing one player who is universally recognized as a big help in 2008.

Lately, the Twins have seemed most intrigued with the Mets' offer.

The Mets are offering some combination of the following five players: Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey.

Gomez, 22, could step in immediately as the Twins' starting center fielder, but some scouts are skeptical about his bat.

The Twins are much higher on Martinez, 19, and Guerra, 18, even though they realize both might be in the minors until 2010.

As for Humber and Mulvey, neither projects as better than a No. 4 starter.

But if the Red Sox and Yankees don't improve their offers -- and the Twins have reason to believe they won't -- Santana could wind up with the Mets.

They will be dancing in the streets of Astoria if this ever goes down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Name Shows Up In Clemens Saga

According to Brian McNamee, an employee of Roger Clemens' agents, the Hendrix Brothers, discussed the possibility of steroid use with McNamee back in 2004, says From the report:

A meeting in 2004 between Roger Clemens' former trainer and a representative of the pitcher's agents could have implications in the back and forth claims about steroid use that came out of the Mitchell report, according to published reports.

Jim Murray, who is employed by Clemens' agents, met with the pitcher's former trainer Brian McNamee in 2004, near Clemens' New York apartment, according to McNamee's attorney Earl Ward. Ward said that at the time, McNamee was concerned that some steroids may be lingering in Clemens' system that could result in a positive test in Major League Baseball's first round of steroid testing.

"He did speak to Murray about his suspicions, his concerns that Major League Baseball had implemented testing and that Roger could have a problem," Ward told the New York Times after speaking with his client Friday night. McNamee said Murray took detailed notes about the meeting. "Brian wanted to let them know Roger had some problems," Ward told the New York Daily News. "They discussed steroid use."
During the congressional hearing on capital hill this month, Ward issued a statement basically warning Clemens there will be harsh consequences should he continue to question or dirty the reputation of McNamee. It appears the first stone has been cast.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Torre Sleeps As Girardi Meets

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article describing Joe Torre's smooth transition into the Dodger managerial job. According to the piece, with Spring Training only a month away "Torre said he has spoken to only a few of his players." Sounds a little too smooth.

On the other hand, New Yankees manager Joe Girardi spent his offseason traveling to the General Manager meetings in Nashville and to the Yankees youth academy in the Dominican Republic. Shockingly, these trips were never made during Torre's tenure as Yankee skipper.

These examples are not to condemn Torre as a baseball manager - he has won four world series and made the playoffs every year he headed up the Bombers - it is more of a promotion of Girardi as the new manager. I believe Torre will be successful in LA, but examples from the article are a bit damning and possibly offer insights into why the last three and a half postseasons have been such disappointments for Yankee fans:
The new Dodgers manager has talked to Pierre and Garciaparra and is at a mini-camp for prospects, but there are many he hasn't spoken to. He has made few decisions on the lineup.

He said he doesn't know what most of them look like or how they think. He said he has few ideas about who will hit in what spot.

About the only certainty in Torre's mind that he was willing to share with reporters Thursday at Dodger Stadium is that Andruw Jones will be his starting center fielder -- "Obviously," he said.

Everything else, Torre said, will be decided at spring training, which begins in Vero Beach, Fla., on Feb. 14, when pitchers and catchers report.
Torre said his conversation with Pierre was similar to one he had with Bernie Williams as manager of the New York Yankees.

"I just basically said to him what I said to Bernie Williams when we signed Kenny Lofton: 'We're going to do what's best for the team and when we leave spring training, it's going to be with the three guys playing the outfield that we all agree will give us the best shot,' " Torre said.
This is not to say Torre's 2008 club will fall apart under his watch, because it won't. The Dodgers have one of the top three farm systems in Major League Baseball and a bevy of talented youngsters at or knocking on the big league's door.

However, a new voice was necessary in the Bronx, and the hands-on, no excuses persona which Girardi carries with him may be just the perfect change of scenery.

Canseco Hires Enquirer Writer,
Report Says Santana Is Overpriced

· After being dumped by a writer from Sports Illustrated, Jose Canseco has a new ghost writer for his book. The writer comes from the National Enquirer and is the same author who helped O.J. Simpson pen a book which searches for Nicole Brown's "real killers."

· Finally, Vince Gennaro of Yahoo! Sports offered a piece explaining why Johan Santana isn't worth the expenditure.